Did you know that Google maintains a website blacklist.
And Google is not just another search engine. Google also offers other services to the internet community as well. “Google LLC is an American technology company that specializes in Internet-related services and products” ( Wikipedia ) Google is committed to their users and as such, they want to keep them safe when they use their services, therefore a Google website blacklist makes sense.
Most, if not everyone, who uses the internet is familiar with the Google search bar. It is one of the most popular search engines around, easy to use with instantaneous search results. Users enter a search query and it returns the best results for that particular request.
Imagine you are a website owner of a WordPress website, testing search queries on Google for your product, “Dog Shoes”. It’s a unique product, therefore the keywords you use on your website are carefully selected for optimum search results. You know your SEO is on point. However, nothing comes up in your searches except “This site may harm your computer”. (or similar warning depending on the browser used)
What went wrong??
Nothing really went wrong as far as the search, but your site may be hacked. The search bar query that you enter starts a search in Google’s database of files, also known as an index. The results from a Google search is found in this index. When a query displays a warning instead of a website that website most likely is a victim of hackers and a member of the Google website blacklist.
Google website blacklist contains all the websites that Google (and other search engines and antivirus programs) deem unsafe to visit. These sites are evaluated using bots and other scanning tools: those that are found unsafe, hacked, are added to the blacklist index as they contain malicious code and can distribute malware to visitors.
Also, your website can be considered risky if it contains a link to a page that you do not control but the linked page contains unsafe content to a visitor. Links like these are often left on a website by a hacker, with nefarious intent. A link like this will add the site to the Google blacklist index.
The blacklist index grows daily as it’s estimated that Google bans around 10,000 websites a day.
As a website owner, if placed on the blacklist index, website traffic dries up, damaging your reputation as search engines warn people to stay away. It is in your best interest to resolve this issue as soon as possible.
To resolve this issue you need to identify the reason you’re on the website blacklist. When it comes to compromising websites most hackers are sophisticated in their craft. They may have left unseen lines of code, changed your contact information to theirs, cloned your website, and so on. As a result of a hacked site, you may be fighting malware, a virus, SEO spam, or code injection.
To identify the reason your website appears to be unreachable and too dangerous to visit, start with Google Search Console. Follow the breadcrumbs: Security & Manual Actions > Security Issues where you will find the reason for being blacklisted and shown the troubled URLs.
At this point, you can enlist the help of an expert clean-up team or try the DIY method. To start the clean-up yourself, scan your website for malware. For the WordPress owner, a tool like ManageWP’s Security Check is recommended.
Once you know why you are on the blacklist index if you’re a “do it yourselfer” you may consider removing the compromised files: but there’s always a chance you’ll miss a few. The best way to recover, restore the website, from an uncompromised backup.
When the website is restored, request another website scan from Google to verify it’s whole and ready to be indexed properly for the search engines. This can be done in the Google Search Console.
When your website is restored and happy make sure you follow good website protocol which includes:
- Secure Passwords
- Update the core and plugins, used a manage WordPress hosting service if you don’t have time
- SSL and proper security configuration
- Scheduled scans for malware. Here again, a managed hosting company will do this for you
Google website blacklist index includes many legitimate websites, like the one owned by the Dog Shoe vendor. These sites join the ranks of the unreachable and dangerous when they are hacked and comprised. Follow best practices and review your website often. Don’t forget to clean up your reputation too: use email marketing to tell your customers what happened, how you fixed it, and how you appreciate their patronage.